Political Bloggers Under Fire

Bloggers in the San Francisco area may soon have to watch what they say politically - or they may face mandatory registration of their Web logs and be forced to report all related costs to the city’s Ethics Commission.

The news comes after city supervisor Sophie Maxwell introduced legislation late last week that requires any person engaged in "electioneering communications" to report their activities, including payments received and/or made.

In a copy of the proposal obtained by BetaNews, it appears that the law is not singling out just Web logs. Included is any "cable, satellite, radio, internet, or telephone communication," as well as paper flyers and door hangers - as long as the communication involves a city election.

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Political blogging has come under fire recently as some supporters of campaign finance reform see it as a way to skirt current laws. Almost two weeks ago, the Federal Election Commission proposed amendments to deal with the Internet, which drew an outcry from the blogging community, both on the left and the right.

"This draft rule creates an unnecessary regulatory minefield for bloggers," RedState.org blogger Mike Krempasky wrote. The law even prompted an online petition, which was signed by 22 conservative and liberal bloggers, as well as over 3,540 people as of press time.

The San Francisco law has come under fire as well. "Whether this ordinance is a poorly worded honest mistake, or whether its a deliberate attack on citizen media, it cannot be allowed to stand," Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos.com wrote. The Personal Democracy Forum called on readers to e-mail Maxwell with their discontent.

It is not immediately known when the Board of Supervisors plan to bring the legislation to a vote.

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